Traffic Islands

Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy

Traffic Islands

Postby ymlam » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:55 am

I ride to work along a road marked PSP to work. Some parts are narrow and there are quite a few traffic islands in the middle of the road. Last August, I was hit on the front wheel when a car swerve in, I think to avoid the traffic island. I recall very little and the driver took off. I had a concussion and a cracked helmet.

The intention may be to slow the cars and perhaps allow pedestrians to cross the road more safely. I have since noticed many such traffic islands. Do you think this is a safety feature for cyclist? I thought it would be better that a painted patch would be safer for cyclist, but is may not be as good for the pedestrian.
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by BNA » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:25 pm

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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby wellington_street » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:25 pm

They do, without doubt, create a pinch point and a conflict point.

If the cyclist is riding on a sealed shoulder or cycle lane then that must be continued through the island.

If the cyclist is riding without any specific infrastructure - i.e. in the traffic lane - then the cyclist needs to 'claim the lane' to pass through the island.

Of course there's plenty of poor examples where the above is not followed but I'm speaking from a planning new infrastructure/auditing existing infrastructure perspective.

Driver behaviour is an issue here - as it is wherever cyclists and vehicles mix. Drivers should not be overtaking at the last second and either close shaving or hitting you. There's nothing you can do from an infrastructure perspective to avoid this, other than completely separate the two modes. While possible and desirable on more important routes, this is not realistic for most streets, so will always be an issue that needs addressing.

The best thing you can do from an infrastructure perspective to manage behaviour is to ensure that there are frequent, safe overtaking opportunities to allow drivers to get past cyclists. The treatment used on many of Perth's suburban collector roads with islands every 50m or less is very bad for cyclists as it creates repeated pinch points with little room for a vehicle to go past in between them. This causes driver frustration and consequently overtaking at inappropriate times. In my view, this treatment should never be used where the design speed is over 30km/h and a sealed shoulder/cycle lane does not exist.
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby Xplora » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:19 pm

Any traffic calming device is ABSOLUTELY DIABOLICAL to cyclist safety. They are designed to slow down smokeboxes and protect peds. What do cars like to do? Go fast. Creates a significant conflict of interest because bikes "slow cars down" as well.

Claim that lane in the traffic calming areas, you will come off second best eventually. Really hate to hear about your prang OP, that's nasty. Got cam?
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby ymlam » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:34 pm

wellington_street wrote:They do, without doubt, create a pinch point and a conflict point.

The best thing you can do from an infrastructure perspective to manage behaviour is to ensure that there are frequent, safe overtaking opportunities to allow drivers to get past cyclists. The treatment used on many of Perth's suburban collector roads with islands every 50m or less is very bad for cyclists as it creates repeated pinch points with little room for a vehicle to go past in between them. This causes driver frustration and consequently overtaking at inappropriate times. In my view, this treatment should never be used where the design speed is over 30km/h and a sealed shoulder/cycle lane does not exist.


In most cases the road is wide enough for bike and car at appropriate speed. I always make sure there is enough room or else I will take up the whole lane. The problem is if the car is driving quite fast they probably would like a margin of error from the traffic island, or they could be completely caught by surprise cand swerve in.
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby im_no_pro » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:44 pm

ymlam wrote:In most cases the road is wide enough for bike and car at appropriate speed. I always make sure there is enough room or else I will take up the whole lane. The problem is if the car is driving quite fast they probably would like a margin of error from the traffic island, or they could be completely caught by surprise cand swerve in.


In which case the fault lies with the driver, not the traffic calming device. Although I understand that probably doesn't make the fact you got hit any better :(
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby ymlam » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Xplora wrote:Claim that lane in the traffic calming areas, you will come off second best eventually. Really hate to hear about your prang OP, that's nasty. Got cam?


Claiming the lane for the entire 2k is not practical with about 6 traffic islands in between. If care is taken it is wide enough for both, but most cars slow down and allow you to go first if you are in front, then overtake after the traffic island.
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby ymlam » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:07 pm

im_no_pro wrote:In which case the fault lies with the driver, not the traffic calming device. Although I understand that probably doesn't make the fact you got hit any better :(


No doubt it is the fault of the driver, because he was coming from behind. I have the right of way. My question is whether those traffic calming device makes it safer. It may be for pedestrian crossing the road, but certainly not safe to 'overtake' anyone.
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby im_no_pro » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:43 pm

ymlam wrote:
im_no_pro wrote:In which case the fault lies with the driver, not the traffic calming device. Although I understand that probably doesn't make the fact you got hit any better :(


No doubt it is the fault of the driver, because he was coming from behind. I have the right of way. My question is whether those traffic calming device makes it safer. It may be for pedestrian crossing the road, but certainly not safe to 'overtake' anyone.


I suppose it depends on whether you mean safer in general (i.e. forcing vehicles to slow down to some extent, preventing street racing or whatever other reasons they may be installed for) or safer as in for your particular scenario
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:38 pm

I always claim the lane in plenty of time to make it obvious to even the most Shaaaayne of smokeboxers exactly how things are but I've also had clowns pass me on the wrong side of these islands before :roll:
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby il padrone » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:47 pm

I often ride this section of about 1 km of Rooks Rd, Nunawading through a series of traffic islands, chicanes and centre-strip paintings, on a quite narrow road. Happily it is mainly downhill heading south (how I most often ride it) and I can keep up a good clip of 30-35kmh. I claim the lane fully and have little trouble with the traffic, which does tend to be rat-running commuter drivers, never the best to enrage. Riding in a northerly direction I keep further left, but use the mirror and claim the lane before and during the road narrowings.

I would agree that this sort of road is often not pleasant for cyclists, but mostly because:

a) not enough cyclists ride through them
b) drivers are given cart blanch by our police to drive like nutters
c) many cyclists ride far too close to the gutter generally, encouraging the nutters.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:14 pm

il padrone wrote:b) drivers are given cart blanch by our police to drive like nutters as long as they are at or below the posted speed limit



Edit for clarity :P
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Traffic Islands

Postby Xplora » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:32 pm

ymlam wrote:
Xplora wrote:Claim that lane in the traffic calming areas, you will come off second best eventually. Really hate to hear about your prang OP, that's nasty. Got cam?


Claiming the lane for the entire 2k is not practical with about 6 traffic islands in between. If care is taken it is wide enough for both, but most cars slow down and allow you to go first if you are in front, then overtake after the traffic island.

300m between each island? Take the lane, merge to the left, take the lane, merge to the left. Don't ride through the door zone at the same time. You didn't put the island there, if the cars suffer immeasurably because of them, that's a shame they can't be trusted without the calmers. They certainly were not put there for cyclists :wink:

You cannot ride recreationally at idle speeds on the roads and expect that you'll never have problems. Concepts like ride big and take the lane are designed to eliminate the issues you describe, in the same way that a traffic calmer just magically makes the speeding car issue go away.

Without a jackhammer, those islands are not going anywhere, and you have to work out how to cover your backside out there.
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